When you have been injured at work and go to your employer to report your injury, the last thing you expect to deal with is your boss refusing to report your injury. Unfortunately, there are some employers out there that choose to make this process difficult for their employees. The best way to protect yourself from this scenario is to be informed of your rights beforehand, so that you can act quickly to preserve your rights to workers’ compensation benefits.

1) The Importance of Reporting Workplace Injuries

You must report your workplace injury as soon as possible. While this is not always feasible, especially for severe traumatic injuries that require immediate medical attention, you must report your work injury to your boss or supervisor as soon as you are able to do so. If you do not report your work injury within 30 days, you may lose your right to workers’ compensation benefits under California law.

Documenting and Gathering Evidence of the Injury

Another important step you should take at this point is to gather evidence of your injury and document anything you can think of that may be helpful. For example, if one of your coworkers saw your injury happen, be sure to take down their contact information so that you have a way to contact them in case you need their testimony to support your case down the road. 

You should also take pictures of your injury if it would be helpful to your case. If your employer makes an injury report in your case, be sure to obtain a copy of it for your records. It may be helpful to you and your attorney later.

2) Legal Rights and Options for Employees

Knowing your legal rights and options after suffering a work injury is valuable information that can help you avoid unnecessary delays in treatment. If your workers’ compensation claim is compensable, you may be entitled to a variety of different benefits under California workers’ compensation law. 

These benefits can include compensation for temporary total disability, permanent disability, death benefits, and supplemental job displacement benefits. Additionally, your employer must also pay for your reasonable and related medical expenses due to your work injury (subject to some limitations).

Sometimes, injured workers are afraid to report their work injuries because they are afraid that their employer will fire them or punish them for being injured on the job and filing a workers’ compensation claim. You should know that it is illegal for your employer to fire you or to retaliate against you for this. It is also illegal for your employer to punish or fire any of your co-workers who testify on your behalf. This type of discrimination is prohibited by the California Labor Code (Section 132a).

In addition, keep in mind that if your employer denies your claim for benefits entirely or disputes your need for medical care at any point during your claim (such as a surgery recommended by your doctor), you still have options moving forward. There are different ways to proceed with challenging decisions made by the claims administrator, so if you are dealing with a dispute in your work comp case, it is always best to consult with an attorney to ensure you are following the proper procedure. 

Steps to Take When Your Boss Won’t Report Workplace Injuries

If your boss does not do anything about your workplace injury after you have tried to report it, you should try to escalate the matter to someone at a higher level, such as their supervisor or the company owner. You can also try reporting your work injury to your HR department if you have one.

If all of the above options fail, the next step is to obtain a workers’ compensation claim form from the State of California Department of Industrial Relations website and fill it out. This form is called the DWC 1 form, and it can be found here. If you need help filling it out, you can contact the Information and Assistance Unit.

You should then mail the form to your employer via certified mail, return receipt requested. This will ensure that you will have a record proving that your employer did receive notice of your injury claim.

Can You Sue Your Employer for Not Reporting Your Injury?

If your employer continuously ignores your attempts to report your injury, you may be wondering, “Can I sue my employer for not reporting my injury?” Unfortunately, no, you cannot sue your employer for not reporting your work injury. The best way to handle this scenario is to obtain a copy of the California workers’ compensation claim form (DWC 1), fill out the employee portion yourself, and then mail a copy of the form to your employer via certified mail -return receipt requested. If you are concerned that your employer is trying to avoid your injury report, you should strongly consider reaching out to an experienced workers’ compensation attorney for further assistance.

Resources and Support for Employees Dealing with Unreported Injuries When Employer Did Not Report Injury Claim

If you still have not heard anything after you have mailed your form to your employer or you have reason to believe your employer is refusing to turn the matter over to their insurance carrier, the next course of action is to contact the Information and Assistance Unit or call the DWC Information Services Center at 1-800-736-7401.

Potential Consequences for Employers Who Fail to Report Injuries and Fail to Maintain Workers’ Compensation Insurance Coverage

If an employer is trying to avoid reporting an injury to their workers’ compensation insurance carrier, it is likely because they are not in compliance with California workers’ compensation insurance coverage laws. Employers face serious consequences for knowingly failing to provide workers’ compensation coverage for their employees. 

In fact, the failure of an employer to secure such coverage is a misdemeanor that is punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year, and/or a fine not less than $10,000. CA Labor Code § 3700.5 (2022). These penalties increase in severity for each additional offense.

4) Seeking Legal Advice and Representation

It is worth contacting a workers’ compensation attorney whenever you have difficulty obtaining workers’ compensation benefits. Sometimes, once a lawyer becomes involved, medical authorizations and approvals begin to move faster. Occasionally, issues that are disputed can even be resolved, allowing you to begin receiving workers’ compensation benefits that you had been denied in the first place. Having an experienced attorney on your side is almost always a huge asset to the outcome of your case.

5) Taking Action and Protecting Your Rights

It is always in your best interest to act quickly to protect your rights when pursuing a claim for workers’ compensation benefits. At Kneisler and Schondel, we understand the impact that swift action has on these types of cases. We know how important it is for our clients to urgently receive the necessary medical treatment and procedures in order to help them get back on their feet as soon as possible.

Attorney Matthew A. Schondel has decades of experience successfully helping injured workers fight for their right to workers’ compensation benefits. He has achieved successful outcomes for numerous clients and is ready to take on cases at any stage in the claims process. Whether you are dealing with a boss who refuses to report your work injury and are unsure how to proceed, or you are facing a dispute over prospective medical care with a claims administrator—we would be happy to speak with you. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.